Editorials and Commentary
Soft AIDS Policy Will Lose the War
March 12, 2002
"For nearly six months, the front pages of American newspapers have been dominated by stories about the war on terrorism. This is understandable given the global threat that terrorism poses.
"An unfortunate result of this, however, is the scant attention that domestic programs have received.... A few weeks ago, the White House very quietly announced the new appointees to the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS.... President Bush has not chosen to reappoint most of the experienced members on the council, including an HIV-positive representative from Gay Men's Health Crisis. Most disturbingly, the president seems to have disregarded the expertise needed for the group to continue to be a truly independent advisory body.
"Instead, Bush has loaded the council with representatives of the pharmaceutical industry and with advocates of 'abstinence only' approaches to the epidemic.... The co-chairs of this newly constituted council are former Rep. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and former Secretary of Health and Human Services Louis Sullivan. Coburn, a physician who retired from Congress in 2000, has always promoted abstinence only as the way to prevent HIV. Sullivan, who served in President George H. Bush's administration, was a lackluster leader and rarely uttered the acronym AIDS in his years in office.... Finally, of great concern, there appears to be a substantial reduction in the number of people openly living with HIV/AIDS on Bush's council.
"...[President Bush] and the country will be served better by an HIV/AIDS council that will provide forthright, public-health-based critiques and recommendations. Such an advisory council would highlight issues that need attention, such as:
"Leadership... funding... [and] global AIDS.... If the United States won't lead on AIDS, why should other nations?
"President Clinton used his position to take a leadership role in the fight against AIDS. It is now time for President Bush to step up to the plate and show that he can lead the world in the war against terrorism and the war against AIDS. Having a more independent HIV/AIDS council would help him perform his AIDS leadership role."
The author is executive director of Gay Men's Health Crisis.
Newsday (New York City)
03.08.02; Ana Oliveira
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.